Many of the efficiencies assumed to be a result of phone conferencing or emailing are lost on multiple levels in the communication process required for proper estate and elder law practices, especially when laying the groundwork with which type of planning you need. I would argue that representing a client, family or business without having ever met with an individual in-person, is a poor practice.
Years ago, I found myself in a conversation with a client who was the trustee and beneficiary of an estate. This individual had responsibly been carrying out their duties for about 10 years. However, as time went on, their responsibilities needed to change and therefore, so did their estate plan.
This should have been a relatively straightforward change, but when they insisted on doing all communications by email and phone, the process was quickly bogged down. Without meeting in person with all involved, it is often hard to know which course of action is best. While having to wait for responses to follow-up questions in search for answers, what can get done in an hour meeting, all of a sudden takes multiple hours and more opportunity for miscommunication.
Wanting to make changes to an estate plan is no small decision and shouldn’t be treated as such. Trust me, life would be more relaxed (and I could probably play more golf) if we met with our clients less. Meeting less with our clients means more time on the phone, missing calls and leaving messages and getting half messages. Emails have similar setbacks.
Don’t get me wrong, our office emails and takes calls all throughout the day, but any gains our firm would make by handling more of our responsibilities through these channels and less in-person would be ill-advised and shortsighted. Planning would become subpar and not meet the expectations of our clients or ourselves.
Our procedure to meet with clients, get to know and understand one another and establish a desired solution is valuable. It’s valuable for understanding more about one another and choosing a plan that’s best for you! I’m sorry, but this is not a process that can happen without ever meeting the person you are making such important decisions for. The foundational understanding and trust established when meeting face-to-face enables us to make more efficient decisions in the long run, saving everyone time and money.
During an in-person consultation, it is imperative that we sit down together with our clients to discuss their situations and strategize a path forward to meet mutual goals. Meeting with clients is a critical component of our service. Personal discussions elicit information that is important to a client’s life situation and estate plan that is not possible in an email exchange and definitely not by text.
Our business is about personal relationships and these types of relationships are built upon personal communication. We believe this type of communication is still the most productive and efficient form for building relationships with our clients and for establishing strategy and accountability for our firm and the clients we serve.
Berger Estate & Elder Law P.A. has been serving Kansas City for over 30 years providing Trusted Council with Proactive Solutions. Give us a call today at (913) 491-6332, visit our website berger-lawfirm.com or stop by our conveniently located offices at 11233 Nall, Suite 140 Leawood, KS 66211 for more information.